Mindfulness: A Way of Being
Mindfulness. We’re hearing this word a lot these days, as research has surfaced on the topic, especially in the last few years. We’re incorporating mindfulness in various medical, school and mental health settings. Therefore, there must be some significance to it, right? It’s so much more than just a “trendy” word. It’s changing lives for the better.
Through practicing mindfulness, you can learn to control your attention, regulate your emotions and cultivate self-awareness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction describes mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” The three key aspects of practicing mindfulness are awareness, non-judgment and acceptance.
- Awareness plays a role in mindfulness through the act of “noticing.” Once you begin to notice your thoughts, you will start to become aware of what’s happening in the mind. Once you notice what’s happening in the mind, you can begin to detach from your thoughts and bring your attention to the present moment.
- Non-judgment is requires a lot of practice. Naturally we tend to be self-critical. It’s important to know that having thoughts and judgments serve us the purpose of having something to practice with. And trust me, you will have them. Most importantly, let go of the expectation of your mindfulness practice to provide you with an immediate end result. Notice judgments and practice letting them go (Read my blog post, The Art of Letting Go for more tips on how to do this). Perhaps through this practice you may also develop self-compassion.
- Acceptance is an even more difficult process. Sometimes we confuse acceptance with “giving in.” However, acceptance is about being able to take what is offered and grow with it, without trying to change it. Therefore, when a thought pops up in your mind, you allow it to be as it is, without trying to cover it up or change it. Acceptance is a challenging process that takes time.
Mindfulness is not something that can be developed after practicing once for five minutes. It’s a way of being and therefore requires a lot of commitment and practice. Luckily, there are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life and it doesn’t necessarily mandate sitting still with your eyes closed as the only answer. Everyone practices mindfulness differently, so it’s important to find the method that works best for you. It’s understandable that it can be really difficult for some to “turn off” their thoughts or to find stillness, but there are many ways to get started toward living mindfully.
Here's a list of a few ways you can practice mindfulness, anywhere, anytime (Click on them for links/resources that give a more detailed explanation):
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Mindful Breathing
- Mindfulness Coloring
- Mindfulness Body Scan
- Mindful Eating
- Mindful Walking
- Mindful Conversation